Is Checking Your Credit Score Safe?
By Financial Wolves
Last updated 3/5/2020
Summary: You may have heard that checking your credit score can hurt your credit but that wouldn't be true. Unless, you authorized a potential lender to check your credit with a hard inquiry. We explain the difference so you don't have to worry.
Applying for a credit card? Or maybe, you’ve finally found the ideal house in the perfect neighborhood for yourself.
In that case, a loan can get you out of trouble if you’re falling short of money.
Let’s presume you’ve applied for any one of the two.
What is the first thing that will help you avail a credit card or loan?
No one just wants to lend their money to anybody. They want to make sure the person they are lending it to can pay it back afterward.
So, how do they make sure of it?
You guessed it: it’s your credit score.
Your credit score is a huge part of your personal financial planning. You need to know it and know how it affects you.
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Well, that solves a few problems, doesn’t it? You can check your credit score and simply head on to the bank for your loan.
But wait. Is checking a credit score safe?
Let’s find out.
What is a Credit Score?
Essentially, a credit score is a number that tells of a customer’s creditworthiness. Banks and other lenders use this number to evaluate whether a person should get the credit or not.
If yes, on what terms.
A person with a good score will not only get the credit he wants, but he’ll get it on reasonable terms.
On the other hand, a person with a bad score will probably have to pay extra charges or interest for the same loan.
You can understand now why this is a pretty important number.
While many credit bureaus calculate this score, the most common one is the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO).
These organizations use a bunch of different factors to come up with your final credit score.
FICO currently has 28 different scoring models, the most popular of which is FICO 8.
The main factors that affect your score are:
- Payment history
- Age and length of credit accounts
- Credit score checks
- Credit utilization
- Types of credit accounts
Your payment history tells how responsibly and timely you’ve paid your amount due in the past. The length of credit accounts is how old the accounts are, with older accounts being generally less risky.
Credit utilization is basically how much you’ve borrowed out of your total borrowing limit.
Types of credit accounts refer to the different types of credit you’ve borrowed. A credit card can be one type and a student loan another.
Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t stick to just one kind.
Lastly, there are the credit score checks, which is how many times you check your credit scores.
Before you get worried about this, you should know that there are different types of checks too. And different kinds of checks affect your score differently.
There are hard checks or inquiries and soft checks.
So, which one should you be worried about?
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Hard vs. Soft Checks
The hard checks, also known as hard pulls, are actually the more alarming type of check for your credit score. These checks can significantly affect your credit score if done too often.
Usually, your credit score is between 300 and 850. The higher it is, the better.
Anything below 650 becomes risky, although this exact number changes from organization to organization and from industry to industry.
Anyway, a hard pull on your credit score can decrease your score by five to even twenty points at a time, depending on the credit bureau handling it.
Now imagine if there are several hard pulls together.
It could seriously affect your score.
A hard check usually occurs when a lender, banker, or any other similar institution pulls your credit report. The reason is mostly to evaluate whether you deserve the credit card or mortgage or whatever credit you’ve applied for.
Hard credit checks may hurt your credit score but 'soft pulls' will not.
A credit report is a detailed document containing information about your credit history, activities, the current status of your accounts, etc.
In comparison, a soft check on your account is quite harmless. In fact, we’d say it’s pretty beneficial for your credit score in the long run.
There are no point deductions or penalties for this kind of check, so you can do as many as you like.
A soft check occurs when you check your credit score yourself, or it happens as part of a background check for pre-approval for a loan. We show you how to request multiple types of credit scores in this article.
So, up till now, we have determined that checking your credit score counts as a soft check.
But, the question remains: is it safe to do so?
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So...Is Checking A Credit Score Safe?
It's a popular misconception, but checking your credit score yourself is perfectly safe.
As we mentioned earlier, this kind of check counts as a soft check, and so, it doesn’t affect your credit score.
To be precise, we’d even encourage you to do it regularly.
Considering how important your credit score is, it's a good idea to keep checking it so that you always know your credit score.
If you do notice a slight dip, you can quickly take corrective measures.
What’s more, to further stay on top of your credit score, you should get the free credit report, available once a year.
It’ll help you see your credit position in detail. You should look at all the hard checks and make sure all of them were done by you, and not anyone else.
Besides tracking your score regularly, you should also constantly be trying to improve your score. If it’s good enough, maintain it.
We know it’s easier said than done but here are a few tips on how to do it:
- Pay on time
- Take out different types of credits
- Don’t close old accounts
- Avoid multiple hard checks by applying for credit cards only as needed
- Keep your credit balance below 30%
You might have thought your credit score only matters when you want another credit card. However, the truth is that it matters even when you’re buying a house or car.
In fact, it also matters when you’re looking for any type of job, either a part-time job or a full-time job, as employers tend to check your credit score.
Therefore, it is vital to keep checking your credit score and doing so in a safe manner.
And thankfully, now you know everything you need to know about checking your score as well.
Financial Wolves is a blog focused on helping you make more money to achieve financial freedom. After repaying student loans, I’ve shifted my focus to make more money from side hustles, real estate, freelancing, and the online economy. Follow us on Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.